Joseph Holmes (8-2) vs Junyong Park (14-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Middleweights step into the octagon next. Holmes saw a seven-fight win streak snapped in his UFC debut against Jamie Pickett back at UFC Vegas 46, but bounced back with a first-round submission win over Alen Amedovski in May last time out. Park alternatively saw a three-fight win streak in the UFC ended when Gregory Rodrigues knocked him out in October last year, but he rebounded with a split decision win over Eryk Anders in his last fight.
Holmes is an excellent wrestler who comes into this fight with a huge advantage in height and reach, while his submission game and top control are big weapons that he likes to use. Park is a bit of a wild man in the octagon, with decent striking and good grappling defence but not really excelling in any department outside of his excellent cardio.
On paper Holmes should be able to use his reach to control where this fight takes place, but Park is very durable and will pressure Holmes plenty during this fight. Expect him to overwhelm Holmes and land the more eye-catching shots while refusing to be held down to score a win on the judge’s scorecards. PICK – Junyong Park via Decision
Andrei Arlovski (34-20) vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima (19-9-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweight scrap up next between two veterans of the game. 43 year old Arlovski has bounced back from a submission loss to Tom Aspinall (UFC Vegas 19) with four straight wins over Chase Sherman, Carlos Felipe, Jared Vanveraa (UFC 271) and Jake Collier most recently. De Lima is 37 himself and is 2-2 in his last four, losing to Alexander Romanov (UFC Vegas 13) and Blagoy Ivanov either side of wins against Maurice Greene and Ben Rothwell.
Arlovski is one of the most complete heavyweights in history, with an excellent wrestling game to go with his expert kickboxing and good power. De Lima is a bulldozer who steps forward looking to end the fight in the first 150 seconds before slowly falling off a cliff with his cardio in the bin. This looks like another typical bout for Arlovski that he likely won’t be losing.
If De Lima lands flush a couple of times then Arlovski is going to sleep, but we’ve said that often in recent years and it hasn’t happened. Arlovski is still savvy enough to avoid those big shots and get his own damage in, and with De Lima’s cardio so poor, expect him to see off the initial blitz and then mix in some wrestling and clinch work to claim a decision win. PICK – Andrei Arlovski via Decision
Phil Hawes (12-3) vs Roman Dolidze (10-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Banger at middleweight in the featured prelim bout of the night. Hawes was on an absolute tear in the UFC winning his first three fights over Jacob Malkoun (UFC 254), Nassourdine Imavov and Kyle Daukaus, before a shock loss to Chris Curtis at UFC 268. He responded to that with a KO win over Deron Winn most recently. Dolidze recently made it two wins in a row, beating Kyle Daukaus via first-round KO.
Hawes is a brilliant kickboxer with legitimate knockout power and fantastic wrestling to go with it, making him a legitimate threat in the weight division. Dolidze on the other hand is a super wrestler who looks to use that to grind on his opponents and control them on the ground, handing out some decent ground and pound in the process. Big problem for him here though, he’s not as good at Hawes at anything.
“No Hype” should be able to have his way with Dolidze wherever this fight goes, but Dolidze is talented enough to make him pay if he isn’t at the top of his game. Hawes has got great power and a great array of attacks, so he should be able to land well and mix it up enough to potentially claim a finish but I do think Dolidze will be able to go the full 15. PICK – Phil Hawes via Decision
Krzysztof Jotko (23-5) vs Gerald Meerschaert (34-14) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A very interesting middleweight scrap opens up the main card between two well known fighters. Jotko has won four of his last five fights, bouncing back from defeat to Sean Strickland at UFC Vegas 25 with a split decision win over Misha Cirkunov at UFC Vegas 38. Meerschaert on the other hand has bounced back from his super-quick KO loss to Khamzat Chimaev at UFC Vegas 17 with three straight submission wins including a late one against Dustin Stoltzfus most recently at UFC Vegas 45.
Jotko is a kickboxer who looks to fight from range using his kicks and long punches and a steady pace that he has shown he is capable of pushing for the entire 15 minutes. Meerschaert on the other hand is an amazing grappler with all of his UFC wins coming by finish, and more submission wins in his career than any other middleweight in UFC history. It’s a real battle of styles, but this one seems to favour Jotko a little bit more.
Meerschaert is by far the more dangerous of the two, but Jotko is so methodical that he tends to just nullify his opponents and win minutes of fights rather than dominate them. It’s either going to be a Meerschaert submission or Jotko decision, but the Polish fighter is all about claiming wins despite it being the most boring fight of the night and he’s likely to do that again. PICK – Krzysztof Jotko via Decision
Darren Elkins (27-10) vs Tristan Connelly (14-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
‘The Damage’ returns to the octagon in a banger of a fight at 145-pounds here. Elkins has lost five of his last seven, including his most recent outing against the returning Cub Swanson at UFC Vegas 45 where he was KO’d by a spinning wheel kick. Connelly saw a near two-year layoff culminate in a defeat against Pat Sabatini in his most recent bout back at UFC 261.
These are two veterans of the sport likely on their way out of the sport sooner rather than later. Elkins is a grinder who tends to walk through flames to score a takedown and really wear down his opponent before taking over from top position, while Connelly is also a ground specialist although he prefers to use his jiu-jitsu skills when down there. That sets up a pretty exciting encounter if the fight hits the mat, and both guys will back themselves to come out on top in that scenario.
The best bet for Connelly to score a submission is to hurt him on the feet first and then latch on to something. His striking isn’t great however and with the relentless wrestling style of Elkins, I expect him to smother Connelly over the course of the 15 minutes and earn a vintage decision win. PICK – Darren Elkins via Decision
Jared Gordon (18-4) vs Grant Dawson (17-1-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Very exciting lightweight bout up next between two guys looking to burst their way into the rankings. Gordon has won three in a row since getting knocked out by the now-champion Charles Oliveira in 2019, all via decision with the most recent coming against Joe Solecki. Dawson on the other hand is nine undefeated, with a draw against Ricky Glenn most recently snapping his win streak.
Gordon is a grinder of a fighter who just doesn’t stop coming forward. He doesn’t particularly excel in any area but is decent enough to hold his own in most. Dawson on the other hand is a specialist wrestler who has looked to use his new-found kickboxing skills more often in recent bouts. He tends to use the fence to his advantage too, pinning opponents to the mat and looking to push them into submission situations. But his best times came at featherweight and now that physicality isn’t a stand-out attribute anymore.
‘Flash’ is definitely the more heavy-handed striker on the feet, but Dawson has the edge in the wrestling and should be able to keep Gordon down if he does get the fight down. Gordon’s cardio will still be there at the end of the fight regardless of how the rest of the fight has gone, while Dawson could struggle deeper into the bout. It will be close for the judges, but I think wrestling wins out and earns him a tight decision. PICK – Grant Dawson via Decision
Andre Fili (21-8) vs Joanderson Brito (12-3-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
This should be a very fun featherweight scrap between two very exciting fighters. Fili is coming off a ‘no contest’ bout against Daniel Pineda back at UFC Vegas 30, while Brito suffered a unanimous decision defeat in his UFC debut to Bill Algeo back at UFC Vegas 46 at the start of the year.
Fili is a very technical kickboxer with some reactive takedowns and good grappling skills on the mat too, while Brito is a very standard Muay Thai fighter but with excellent power in his strikes and nasty clinch work culminating in ten finishes from his 12 victories. Brito was beaten by Algeo last time out, and Fili is a better version of Algeo with more strings to his bow. Obviously, that’s a problem for the Brazilian prospect.
Brito has got huge power and has always got it in him to land one big shot and end the fight there and then. But ultimately Fili is the better fighter here. His kickboxing is sharper, his wrestling is a way for him to be able mix it up and he’s the more experienced guy too. It won’t be easy, but I think Fili takes him all the way and earns the nod from the judges. PICK – Andre Fili via Decision
Andrei Arlovski (33-20) vs Jake Collier (13-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweight collision in the co-main event between two men at different ends of their UFC career. Former champion Arlovski has won five of his last six, with the only defeat coming against Tom Aspinall, including each of his last three via decision. Collier on the other hand is a former middleweight who has alternated wins and losses since 2014 going back 11 fights. His most recent was a win against Chase Sherman via submission back in January at UFC Vegas 46.
Arlovski is a traditional heavyweight with some good boxing and a lethal left high kick just like the famous Mirko Cro Cop once upon a time. He uses good movement and volume well rather than power punches, but seems to be excellent at avoiding damage and doing well. Collier is a very similar fighter, just ten years younger and he has got a good grappling background in his arsenal too.
This is a strange fight to be the co-main event in all honesty, but I can’t go against the 50-50 record over the last eight years. Arlovski looks as good as he’s looked in a long while recently and has the experience to make his momentum and moments count. Collier likes to throw leg kicks and that could leave him open to a straight right hand counter down the pipe but most likely this looks like a pretty comfortable Collier decision win. PICK – Jake Collier via Decision
Rob Font (19-5) vs Marlon Vera (18-7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger of a main event and comfortably the fight of the night on this card. Font saw a four-fight win streak snapped last time out by Jose Aldo in a great fight at UFC Vegas 44, while Vera earned a highlight reel front-kick-to-the-face knockout against Frankie Edgar in his most recent outing at UFC 268.
Font is one of the best pure boxers in the UFC, with incredible hand speed and solid power in his hands as well as some good takedowns as shown against Cody Garbrandt in his most recent win. Vera on the other hand is a really tidy all-round fighter with crisp striking and great technique with his leg kicks and punches, while he also has excellent jiu-jitsu skills and grappling on the mat. Vera has never been finished in his career, but his lack of output early on in fights could see Font have a lot of early success with his boxing to the body.
It’s unlikely that Font will look to grapple at all in this fight, because that is entering Vera’s world. His boxing and speed is where he can win this fight, but Vera is good at applying pressure and forcing his opponents to fight on the back foot. It should be a terrific fight overall, but I think Font’s early work will be enough to edge him a judge’s decision for the bout. PICK – Rob Font via Decision
Maxim Grishin def William Knight via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Slow start to this one, with Grishin attacking the body with kicks in the first minute and landing a nice low kick too. Grishin just misses with a front kick to the face, then Knight responds with a body kick attempt of his own. Grishin has a huge reach advantage and is staying on the outside, then lands a huge head kick! Knight doesn’t go down but he’s hurt, Grishin stays patient though and doesn’t go for the kill. Grishin lands a low outside kick and then goes for another head kick that misses. Knight throwing next to nothing so far, as Grishin just touches him from the outside and avoids all the damage coming his way. Grishin backs Knight against the cage but both guys are lacking with their output through the first round. 10-9 Grishin.
Similar start to this round as Grishin takes the centre and uses his kicking game to maintain distance, while Knight not doing much. Grishin lands a low inside kick and follows it with a right hand, then a hard low kick that gets a big reaction from Knight. Knight trying for a few kicks of his own but not landing anything, then Grishin lands another right hand and Knight goes in for a takedown. Grishin defends it well but Knight chain wrestling and eventually gets Grishin on his shoulders and slams him down! Knight goes for the back but Grishin fights out and ends up on top himself, landing two good elbows and taking side control. Knight powers his way back up to his feet but Grishin does well to separate and get back to his jab and kicking game from range. 20-18 Grishin.
Final round and Grishin lands a hard low kick early on, who reacts in pain but spins into a spinning back fist and gets a clinch. Knight goes for a takedown and gets the single leg to put Grishin on his backside, but he immediately switches and gets back up. He gets separation and lands a nice left hand and low kick combo, but Knight responds with a left hand too. Knight goes for another takedown and Grishin defends it well, but then he throws a kick that Knight catches and he trips Grishin to end up on top. Grishin is able to get back to his feet relatively quickly though and pushes Knight back against the cage. Knight goes for a flying knee and misses then gets another takedown, but Grishin defending well and lands a hard right hand followed by two low kicks. Knight goes for a big right hand but Grishin lands a left that drops him and he ends the round in full mount. Solid performance from Grishin. 30-27.
Wells sprints around the outside of the octagon and slips in the opening seconds, so Blood Diamond moves in quickly. Wells immediately gets a clinch and starts looking for a takedown, but Blood Diamond defending it really well so far 90 seconds in. Wells trying to use strength to get the takedown and eventually is able to lift him and puts him on the mat, then falls into mount! Wells looking for a choke but Diamond fighting the hands, so Wells starts landing heavy ground and pound. Diamond trying to get up but Wells is on his back heavy with hooks in and is throwing heavy shots on the ground. Wells slides the arm under the chin and tries to go for a choke again but Diamond looks to be defending well. Suddenly the referee stops the fight and we can see that Diamond is out cold! What a submission win!
Douglas Silva de Andrade def Sergey Morozov via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:34)
Both guys looking to take the centre early as Morozov lands a jab and Andrade lands two nice calf kicks. Morozov lands a nice right hand that wobbles Andrade and he follows it up with two hooks that drops him! Morozov goes into top position and starts working him with heavy ground and pound strikes. A huge elbow from Morotoz and he slices Andrade wide open and that is a nasty cut over the eye. Andrade tries to get back up but Morozov drops him down and then allows him up and lands a big knee to the head. Morozov lands a lovely one-two and Andrade is still hurt. Morozov lands a nice knee to the body, then Andrade explodes with a heavy left hook that lands. Spinning body kick from Morozov lands clean and then he shoots for a double leg takedown and gets it to end the round on top. Huge round for Morozov. 10-9.
Fast start from Andrade who knows he’s down a round early on. Morozov being backed up against the cage and Andrade lands a heavy strike that wobbles him! Big right hand and Andrade drops him! He goes for a finish but Morozov defends the position well and is able to grapple his way to safety. Andrade looking for haymakers and just missing. Andrade throws the same combination and drops Morozov again! Morozov in survival mode, but Andrade landing heavy strikes and a big knee connects. Andrade hurts him and moves for a choke! Morozov defending it well but Andrade changes the grip and secures it. Morozov refuses to tap but he goes out unconscious! What a comeback win!
Jacob Malkoun def AJ Dobson via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Super quick punching combination from Dobson early on causes Malkoun problems. Malkoun trying to get close, but Dobson lands a nice short right hand that hurts him! Malkoun goes for a takedown to recover but he defends it well and starts looking to strike again. Malkoun changes levels again and is in deep, but once again Dobson defends it despite being lifted into the air. Dobson lands a hard knee to the body, and then both fighters exchange strikes to the chin. Malkoun catches a kick and tries for another takedown but Dobson again stays on his feet and defends it. Malkoun lands a nice right hand but Dobson responds with a lovely combo. Hard one-two from Dobson but Malkoun finally gets himself a takedown with ten seconds of the round remaining. 10-9 Dobson.
Malkoun and Dobson going after it early on in this second round. Malkoun lands a nice right hand and shoots for a takedown, but Dobson denies him and fires a knee up the middle that misses. Malkoun shoots in again and this time gets the trip and gets him down, then looks to move to his back but Dobson is able to get up quickly. Malkoun swings him down to the mat again and is landing some hard ground and pound strikes, hurting Dobson. Lots of ground strikes landing and Dobson is trying to find a way back to his feet but Malkoun controlling him well. Hard strikes and Malkoun continuing to control as he allows Dobson up for the final ten seconds to end the round. Could easily be a 10-8 round. 19-18 Malkoun.
Final round and Malkoun is back in with a takedown early on and gets it. Straight back to the same position on the back of Dobson, landing ground and pound strikes once again. Malkoun switches the position and gets to half guard with Dobson flat on his back and he’s controlling the position and landing good, solid ground and pound strikes. Dobson is trying to kick off the cage to get out from under Malkoun, but he blocks it and gets some big shots off again. Malkoun postures up and lands some heavy strikes. Malkoun throwing some elbows too as we enter the final 30 seconds and he’s dominated this final round again too. 29-26 Malkoun for me.
Ronnie Lawrence def Mana Martinez via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x2, 29-28)
Cagey start to this fight early on as Lawrence lands a few low kicks, while Martinez takes the centre and feints to try and set up his strikes. Lawrence steps forward and shoots with a beautiful takedown and gets it immediately, looking to control Martinez although he’s not doing much damage yet. Martinez fights the hands and is able to get back up to his feet, then lands a hard low kick of his own. Lawrence back to moving on the outside and then steps in with a low-kick, right hook combination that drops Martinez! Lawrence jumps on top for a finish and lands some good ground and pound strikes, and Martinez scrambles to survive. Lawrence in full guard looking for elbows as we enter the final 15 seconds. Good round. 10-9 Lawrence.
Martinez trying to land some strikes from range early on in this round, but Lawrence moving well and avoiding. Big right body shot and left hook to the chin from Lawrence lands and Martinez gets knocked down again! Lawrence goes back to top position and fires in some ground and pound and wrestles for control as he takes the back. Martinez gets to the cage and battles his way back up to the feet, but then Lawrence lands another huge right hook that drops him again! He misses with some ground and pound but then gets the hooks in and takes the back to look for a rear-naked choke. Martinez is able to reverse it and get up to his feet but then Lawrence shoots for a takedown again and takes control again. Lawrence gets another takedown to end the round, pure dominance. 20-17 Lawrence.
Martinez coming out in this final round knowing he needs a finish and pressing forward. Lawrence staying very calm on the feet but Martinez lands a couple of nice right hands. Hard low kick from Martinez and then Lawrence goes for a head kick. Lawrence goes for a takedown but Martinez stuffs it, then lands a nice right hook. Martinez stuffs a takedown attempt again and then lands a huge spinning back fist that drops Lawrence! He lands some huge follow up strikes but Lawrence just about survives and shoots for a takedown. Martinez goes for a triangle and then goes for an armbar but Lawrence rolls through it and defends it well, then ends the round in top position. So close to a comeback. 29-27 Lawrence for me.
Carlos Ulberg def Fabio Cherant via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Relatively slow start to the round for both guys as Ulberg takes the centre and backs Cherant up against the cage. Hard low kick from Ulberg lands and then goes for a body kick but lands low and pauses the action. Cherant is mad now and blitzes out when the action resumes, landing a big left hand and then clinching. Ulberg denies him and then gets a takedown of his own, before letting him up quickly. Cherant flies in for a big left hand but Ulberg fires a low kick that drops Cherant but then he lets him stand up again. Nice work from Ulberg but he looks quite cocky right now and Cherant is dangerous. Big left from Cherant lands just before the buzzer and drops Ulberg, but he’s not really hurt at all. 10-9 Ulberg for me, but a weird round.
Cherant more aggressive early on in this round and backing Ulberg up with his left hand. Ulberg lands a low kick and then counters Cherant’s left hand with a beautiful left hook that opens up a cut over his eye. Ulberg goes to the body with his kicks and is landing his jab well, while Cherant continues to look for that left hand explosion. Ulberg landing some nice kicks to the body and his jab getting through, plus his check-left hook is doing well. Easy round for Ulberg. 20-18.
Ulberg using nice footwork inside the opening 90 seconds of this round to stay away from Cherant, who knows he needs a finish to get anything from this fight. Very slow pace to this one with neither man really doing much to win the fight yet. Ulberg lands two nice body shots, but Cherant just standing in front of him and not throwing anything at all. Cherant steps forward and swings a big left hand but Ulberg ducks under and takes his back, then secures a takedown with a minute to go. Cherant fights his way back to the feet with ten seconds to go and this one fizzles out. 30-27 Ulberg, but not the most entertaining fight by any means.
Blistering start to this fight as Phillips throws a huge leg kick and then lands some big combinations on Rojo. Rojo steps forward and lands a nice combo to the body himself, before Phillips lands a nice straight right hand. Flying knee from Phillips and then another hard leg kick drops him. Phillips lands another lovely combination, but Rojo still coming forward and lands a nice right hand himself. Phillips lands a good right hand as the clinch, then gets a takedown and moves to the back of Rojo very quickly. He gets the hooks in and takes him down to the mat, then transitions to mount but Rojo quickly gets half-guard back. Hard knee from Phillips but Rojo gets back to his feet. Rojo continues to come forward and looking for combinations, but Phillips seems to have him beaten everywhere. A lovely trip sees Phillips end the round on top too. 10-9 Phillips.
More of the same early on in this second round as Rojo tries to take the centre, but he’s just a step behind the lightning quick Phillips. Phillips lands low kicks and his jab well, but Rojo is trying to push forward and land blitzes. Overhand right misses by Rojo, and Phillips steps in with a nice combo and flying knee attempt. Rojo keeps coming forward though and looking for combinations, but Phillips’ leg kicks are doing lots of damage now. Rojo denies a takedown attempt but Phillips eventually gets him in a clinch position against the cage and sees the round out in control. 20-18 Phillips.
FInal round now and Rojo is suffering with some severe damage on his lead leg, but he is soldiering through it. Phillips goes for a takedown but Rojo stuffs it, only for Phillips to chain wrestle and secure a different position on top. Phillips pushing for a submission and gets into full mount. He goes for an inverted mounted triangle, then synches in an armbar too. Rojo tries to get out but taps out before he rolls through to a belly down position and Phillips secures the victory! What a performance!
Modafferi coming forward with lots of pressure early on and is landing her jab well, but O’Neill countering well with her right hand. Nice left hook from O’Neill as she starts to work her own jab and force Modafferi backwards. Both women land a left hook at the same time, then Modafferi lands a right hand behind it too. Hard one-two from O’Neill lands over and over again but Modafferi continues to come forward with pressure. O’Neill comes forward and just misses with a big elbow, but she’s still landing well with her punches. O’Neill landing hard and heavy shots but Modafferi eating them all and firing back herself to end the round. 10-9 O’Neill, but it’s competitive.
Lots of forward pressure from Modafferi once again early on but O’Neill without doubt has the advantage all over in the striking battle. O’Neill landing big shots on her counters and they’re starting to take an effect on Modafferi. O’Neill starting to up the pressure now and looking for big strikes, but Modafferi responds with a forward blitz and then separates from a clinch attempt. O’Neill is landing her one-two and her overhand right at will now, and is starting to mix in some kicks to her attacks too. Modafferi still marching forwards though. Modafferi goes for a knee but just misses and O’Neill starts screaming while she’s striking. Modafferi changes levels and gets the takedown with seconds remaining to end up on top, but that’s O’Neill’s round. 20-18.
O’Neill coming out very aggressive in the final round looking for a finish, as Modafferi once again looks to blitz her way into a successful striking battle. O’Neill is very sharp though and is landing first and hardest in these exchanges. O’Neill lands a hard right but Modafferi responds with two nice knees to the body. Modafferi still stepping forward and lands a big spinning back fist, but O’Neill eats it and then lands a lovely combo of her own. Modafferi clinches up and lands some knees but O’Neill again lands her right hand freely. Modafferi goes for a takedown but O’Neill sprawls, then throws a kick and sees it caught by Modafferi who pushes her to the ground. O’Neill gets up quickly and is attacking the body lock that Modafferi has wrapped around her, while she throws knees looking to do damage. Modafferi pushing for a takedown but O’Neill defends it all the way to the buzzer and should take a dominant decision win.
Andrei Arlovski def Jared Vanderaa via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Hard low kick from Arlovski to open up the fight and then a lovely combination of strikes to the head lands on Vanderaa. Arlovski moving a lot on the outside and bursting with speed and precision to land. Vanderaa backing Arlovski against the cage, but he’s not really throwing much yet. Arlovski lands a big right cross and then Vanderaa just misses with a right uppercut. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa looking for trips, but Arlovski is able to separate. Arlovski throws a spin kick to the body and then a hard right hand follows which rock Vanderaa. Arlovski stays patient and throws a spinning back fist that just misses and that’s the round. 10-9 Arlovski.
Vanderaa goes for a low kick and Arlovski lands a beautiful combination that sends Vanderaa backwards. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa lands some solid knees to the body and thighs before Arlovski is able to separate and get away. Hard right hand lands again from Arlovski and he follows it up with three more clean strikes with his overhand, but Vanderaa is still there. Another hard right hand lands from Arlovski and Vanderaa is just eating them now. Vanderaa gets a body lock against the cage but Arlovski defends it easily and lands his right hand a couple more times for good measure before the round ends. 20-18.
Final round and Vanderaa is coming out with more kicks. Lots of leg kicks followed by a heavy body kick and then they clinch up, with Vanderaa throwing some knees against the cage too. Lots of stalling and then Arlovski finally steps away and then lands a nice right hand, but Vanderaa is still coming forward. Nice counter strikes from Vanderaa and a good left hook lands as Arlovski is backing up against the cage. Final 20 seconds and they clinch again, before Arlovski lands a big right hand as the round ends. 29-28 Arlovski for me.
Bobby Green def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Good start to this one from Green as he takes the centre early on and starts looking to implement his jab. Haqparast accidentally pokes him in the eye to cause a pause in the action, then he misses with two wild hooks as Green showboats. Green coming forward with his hands very low, while Haqparast has a very high guard and is trying to counter. Hard low kick from Haqparast, but then Green responds with more jabs. Green is very confident and is landing well in the centre and Haqparast is struggling to get any sort of offense going. 10-9 Green.
Haqparast trying to apply more forward pressure in this round from the off but Green slipping and countering so well to land his jabs. Green is striking through the high guard well and busting up Haqparast’s face, but he’s still coming forward. Nice left hand from Haqparast lands as Green tries to chip away at the guard. Both guys land with a stiff jab, then Haqparast lands a hard low kick to go with it. Haqparast throws another left overhand that connects, but Green rolling with the shots for the most part. Big straights and crosses from Green busting up the face of Haqparast at this point as we enter the final minute. Big overhand left again from Haqparast lands and he’s starting to land more by keeping Green backed up against the cage. Green still landing too with double jabs and straights. What a great fight. I give it to Green, but could be Haqparast’s round. 20-18 for me.
Haqparast comes out firing in the final round, but Green catches a kick and then lands some more straight shots to the nose through the high guard. Green’s boxing has been excellent, with body shots mixed in now. Haqparast trying to apply forward pressure, but Green is doing so well to land combinations at speed through the guard and mix his attacks up. Green dominating the exchanges now and he lands a couple of big strikes to end the round and claim a huge career victory. 30-27 Green.
Renato Moicano def Alexander Hernandez via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)
Hernandez opens up with some hard low kicks, but Moicano lands the first big strike of the night with an overhand right to the chin. Hernandez landing those low kicks well, but Moicano slipping shots well and countering. Moicano looks to change levels and go for a single leg takedown, but Hernandez defends it well. They clinch against the cage and Moicano gets him down, but Hernandez scrambles back up to his feet immediately. Moicano holds on to the body lock though and eventually does throw Hernandez down and ends up in half guard after another scramble. Hernandez uses his strength to get up and goes straight back to striking, throwing jabs and hooks with a high pressure. Hernandez stalking him around the cage now, but Moicano responds with a lovely right hand down the pipe. Fun round, 10-9 Moicano, just.
Hernandez trying to weaponise his cardio in the second round, coming out very aggressively. Moicano lands a beautiful left hand, right uppercut combination to slow him right down. Hernandez goes to clinch and Moicano avoids it and lands a beautiful combination that rocks him! Moicano follows up with a knee that drops Hernandez! He goes for the finish but Hernandez gives up his back, so Moicano takes it, sinks in a choke and gets the tap! What a performance!
Jared Cannonier def Derek Brunson via Knockout, Round 2 (4:29)
Interesting start to the fight as Cannonier comes out looking for big strikes early on, while Brunson looking to stay away from those striking exchanges to wrestle. Brunson shoots in and Cannonier defends it, but Brunson switches to a single leg and lifts it high to secure the takedown, but Cannonier gets up relatively easily. Brunson looking to wear on him using clinches and takedown attempts, making Cannonier miss. Brunson shoots in again and after battling he gets the trip and ends up on top, looking for an arm triangle. Cannonier gets back up and misses with a kick, then Brunson lands a huge right hook that drops him! Brunson takes the back immediately and locks up a rear-naked choke but the buzzer goes and saves him. Close. 10-9 Brunson!
Brunson opens the round with an immediate takedown attempt in the centre of the octagon and gets it. He tries to secure position but Cannonier scrambles up to his feet and looks much fresher than Brunson. Brunson lands a couple of left hands but Cannonier is fresh and can see Brunson tiring. Brunson goes back in for a takedown but it’s denied. Big right hook from Cannonier lands and then an uppercut lands too. Hard jab from Cannonier and then a combination misses. Brunson looks very slow right now but he shoots in for a takedown anyway. Cannonier denies it easily and as they clinch he lands a huge short elbow and a back fist. Brunson is hurt badly and Cannonier drops him again. He gets on top position and lands huge elbows to put him out cold and that’s enough for the referee! What a win!
Tai Tuivasa def Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 2 (1:40)
Tuivasa comes out with feints and some hard low kick attempts inside the first minute as they look to feel each other out. Lewis goes for a right hand but Tuivasa ducks under it and gets a clinch against the cage, landing knees against his thighs. Lewis goes for a head kick that gets blocked then a flying knee that misses, before a right overhand lands and they clinch up again. Lewis drops down for a single leg but Tuivasa defends it well. Lewis gets an outside trip and ends up on top then as he postures up to land big strikes Tuivasa starts to get up too. Lewis lands four or five flush shots but Tuivasa gets up and starts swinging back before they clinch up again. Lewis gets another takedown but Tuivasa gets back up too and the round ends. Wild round. 10-9 Lewis.
Tuivasa looks for a low kick once again to open the round, but Lewis just misses with a big right hand. Lewis looks to blitz him with big strikes but Tuivasa evades him and they clinch up against the cage once again. Lewis tries to blitz him again but Tuivasa swings with him and lands a few of his own! Lewis is hurt! Tuivasa swinging big shots and Lewis is in trouble. Tuivasa lands a huge elbow and Lewis faceplants! He’s out cold! Tuivasa with the biggest win of his career! Wow!
Israel Adesanya def Robert Whittaker via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)
Very methodical start from both guys as they miss with several low kicks each and lots of fakes and feints. Adesanya finally lands a hard low kick and then another about halfway through the round. Whittaker lunges in for a left hook but misses and Adesanya lands a left hand that drops Whittaker! He gets back up quickly and then looks to shoot a takedown, but Adesanya sprawls well and goes back to the centre. A hard low kick again from Adesanya and then a check left hook lands, before Whittaker shoots for another takedown and misses it. Whittaker checks a low kick but then eats on to the body and that’s the round. 10-9 Adesanya.
Whittaker just misses with a head kick early in the second round but then eats a heavy low kick. He swings overhand with his right hand and Adesanya lands another hard right hand. Whittaker moving backwards a lot but then he moves forward for a double jab and Adesanya counters with a right uppercut. Whittaker lands a nice left hand that gets a reaction but Adesanya evades a high kick. Whittaker shoots in for a takedown and gets Adesanya to the ground, but the champion immediately gets his back to the cage and stands back up before separating. A hard low kick from Adesanya again, followed by a head kick that’s partially blocked and a body kick. Low kick from Whittaker lands with a minute to go, then Adesanya returns fire with one 30 seconds later before the round ends. Close round that could go either way, but I probably lean towards Whittaker there. 19-19.
Adesanya taking the centre again in the third round and doing well to close of the octagon. Whittaker trying to use double jabs to close the distance, while Adesanya is using his low kicks well. Whittaker lands a jab and Adesanya responds with a hook, but neither man is hurt by it. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it perfectly and lands a nice knee before they break. Adesanya goes for a head kick but Whittaker ducks under it and goes for a takedown. He gets a body lock but Adesanya gets back to his feet well and then uses a kimura trap to force the break. Hard low kick from Adesanya gets a big reaction, before Whittaker steps in with a jab that gets countered by a hook. Round ends, 29-28 Adesanya for me.
Whittaker opens the round with a big right hand that lands flush and stuns Adesanya. He returns with two hard low kicks before they miss with big hooks. Whittaker goes for a takedown again and gets it and ends up in the backpack position against the cage looking to get a choke in! Adesanya fights the hands and gets him off relatively quickly, and they return to the centre. Adesanya lands another low kick and then misses with a big hook. Hard low kicks again from Adesanya, and Whittaker comes forward with his jabs again. Big hook from Adesanya just misses and then Whittaker just misses with his own as the round ends. 39-37 Adesanya.
Whittaker steps in with his double jab again as Adesanya misses a right hook. Hard low kick from Adesanya again, then another jab from Whittaker. Hard body kick from Adesanya and then a stiff jab from Whittaker does get a reaction, but he sits off him again. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it well. Whittaker shoots for a takedown again and gets it, but once again Adesanya bounces back to his feet and fights the hands of the body lock to try and separate. Adesanya goes for a knee, then Whittaker throws a big left hook that lands. Final 90 seconds now and Adesanya lands a nice low kick again. Whittaker goes for another takedown but Adesanya’s defence is impeccable again. They clinch against the cage and the fight ends, it should be #AndStill.. 48-47 Adesanya.
Carlos Ulberg (5-1) vs Fabio Cherant (7-3) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A really fun light heavyweight bout between two huge 205-pounders. Ulberg came into the UFC with a big reputation, but was knocked out by Kennedy Nzechukwu at UFC 259 in his debut. Cherant on the other hand was expected to be a problem in this division, but has been finished by Alonzo Menifield at UFC 260 and then got KO’d by William Knight at UFC Vegas 34.
Ulberg is a brilliant kickboxer, with great power and movement to go with blistering speed. Cherant on the other hand is a huge wrestler, who looks to close distance and get hold of you before using his pure power to drag you to the mat. It’s a battle of polar opposites in this one and it’s hard to decipher which way it’s going to go.
Cherant is more than capable of getting a takedown and his submission skills are top tier, but he’s shown a capability to get his lights turned out. Ulberg has got great power and almost KO’d Nzechukwu in his first bout before his cardio gave up on him. If he can land early, he’ll claim the victory. If he gets dragged to the mat, it’ll be a long night for him. Because of the obviousness of their plans, I expect Ulberg to be able to land big before Cherant can close the distance for a takedown, and that will be enough for the win. PICK – Carlos Ulberg via Knockout, Round 1
Alex Perez (24-6) vs Matt Schnell (15-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A super fun flyweight bout up next. Perez makes his return to the cage after his title fight submission loss to Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 255, while Schnell looks to return to winning ways after a decision loss to Rogerio Bontorin at UFC 262 earlier this year.
Perez is a very well-rounded fighter with good boxing skills and some excellent grappling skills too, while Schnell is equally well-rounded with some decent submission skills and a good high guard when striking, although he doesn’t have show-stopping one-punch power. His wrestling isn’t the best and I think Perez has the edge there, while on the feet he also has a disadvantage int his match up.
Schnell’s best hope in this one is to either clip Perez on the feet in an exchange, or locking up a submission in a scramble. Perez is likely to be able to out-box him in a striking battle and he has the grappling to survive for the most part so I think he grinds him down on the feet with leg kicks and lands the bigger shots in the fight to earn the judge’s decision. PICK – Alex Perez via Decision
Kyler Phillips (9-2) vs Marcelo Rojo (16-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger at bantamweight between two super exciting 135-pounders. Kyler Phillips saw a four-fight win streak snapped by Raulian Paiva last time out at UFC Vegas 32, while Rojo suffered an incredibly exciting defeat to Charles Jourdain in his debut at UFC Vegas 21.
Phillips is a terrific striker, with great movement and power and combinations that usually end with a high kick landing clean. He’s also a good wrestler, with a strong double-leg and a willingness to mix it up. Rojo is a powerful striker with lots of kicking techniques and explosive Muay Thai. While Rojo probably has the power advantage, everything else starts to lean towards Phillips’ side.
He’s quicker, more evasive, has good power of his own and sets a good pace which means he should win this bout. Rojo absolutely has the ability to slow him down with leg kicks and use his size to clinch, but Phillips is good enough to cause a variety of problems and because of his willingness to take punches I think Phillips could get a finish. PICK – Kyler Phillips via Knockout, Round 2
Roxanne Modafferi (25-20) vs Casey O’Neill (8-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A passing of the torch moment in the flyweight division for the women here as Modafferi makes her walk to the cage for the final time in her career. A 46th occasion as a pro, Modafferi is on a two-fight losing streak having been beaten by Viviane Araujo at UFC Fight Island 8 and Taila Santos at UFC 266 most recently. O’Neill on the other hand is an impressive 8-0 including three finishes from three fights in the UFC with victories over Shana Dobson (UFC Vegas 19), Lara Procopio (UFC Vegas 29) and Antonina Shevchenko (UFC Vegas 38).
Modafferi is probably the worst fighter in the UFC when it comes to aesthetics, with horrible striking but some classy grappling and jiu-jitsu skills. She knows how to make a fight ugly and find a way to win. O’Neill on the other hand is a freight train at the moment, with excellent grappling with ground-and-pound, submissions and good striking on her feet too.
Realistically the only question in this fight is whether or not O’Neill can finish Modafferi rather than take her the full 15 minutes. She’s better everywhere and not even in her prime yet. I expect that she’ll be relentless in the pursuit of a finish but Modafferi will go out without being finished on this occasion. PICK – Casey O’Neill via Decision
Andrei Arlovski (32-20) vs Jared Vanderaa (12-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight bout between two relative veterans is the featured prelims fight of the night. Former champion Arlovski is on a two-fight win streak having earned decisions against Chase Sherman at UFC Vegas 24 and Carlos Felipe at UFC Vegas 40. Vanderaa on the other hand was well beaten in his last fight against Alexandr Romanov at UFC Vegas 39 when he got TKO’d in the second round.
Arlovski is an all-round heavyweight, with good wrestling and excellent striking as well as the experience and cardio to go all night. Vanderaa is a volume heavy striker, which is weird to see from a heavyweight, but he also has some solid ground and pound. If he can get Arlovski to the ground then he should be able to hold him there and secure a victory, potentially via finish.
Unfortunately for him though, Arlovski is very tough to take down and almost impossible to knockout even at his age now. He’ll look to close the distance to keep Vanderra from exploiting him but ultimately Arlovski will land the bigger shots in their exchanges to earn a narrow judge’s decision. PICK – Andrei Arlovski via Decision
The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas once again for yet another fight night card, this time headlined by female featherweight Norma Dumont and short-notice replacement Aspen Ladd.
Ladd was pulled from UFC Vegas 38 just two weeks ago after missing the bantamweight limit by one pound, scrapping her fight with Macy Chiasson. But after Holly Holm pulled out of this card with an injury, the UFC called her in up a weight class to fill in for this main event.
Elsewhere on the card the legendary Jim Miller makes a return while two Contender Series alum in Jordan Wright and Julian Marquez meet in a fun middleweight scrap.
Last week at UFC Vegas 39, we went 6/9 with three perfect picks on a rather forgettable card to move us up to 434/679 (63.92%) with 187 perfect picks (43.09%) since June 2020.
Julian Marquez (9-2) vs Jordan Wright (12-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Potential fight of the night in this one in the middleweight division between two guys with a 100% finish rate in their careers. Marquez earned a submission win over Maki Pitolo at UFC 258 before another submission win over Sam Alvey at UFC Vegas 23. Wright on the other hand bounced back from defeat to Joaquin Buckley at UFC 255 to earn a brilliant first-round win over Jamie Pickett most recently at UFC 262.
Marquez is a very good all-round fighter but he doesn’t seem to excel in any particular path. He’s got good power, very good cardio, decent grappling skills and an ability to go with the flow in each bout. Wright on the other hand is a terrific striker, with explosive power and solid kicks in his arsenal.
This fight will either be incredible explosive with a big finish, or both fighters will be wary of their opponent’s power and scoot around the outside like Thiago Santos vs Johnny Walker did. Either way, I think Marquez has the edge and Wright has been finished before so I lean with ‘The Cuban Missile Crisis’. PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 2
Manon Fiorot (7-1) vs Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very fun flyweight bout up next on the main card as the highly rated Manon Fiorot returns to take on Mayra Bueno Silva. Fiorot is udnefeated in the UFC and on a seven-fight win streak with KO’s over Victoria Leonardo at UFC Fight Island 8 and Tabatha Ricci at UFC Vegas 28. Silva is 1-1-1 in her last three, with a submission win over Mara Romero Borella before a draw last time out against Montana De La Rosa at UFC Vegas 20.
Fiorot is a brilliant kickboxer with supreme technical quality and plenty of power in her striking, while Silva is an excellent grappler with five submission wins in her career so far. Fiorot’s ground game is relatively untested in the UFC up to this point and Silva is sure to change that statement. The issue she has however is that her takedown game is non-existent. If Silva gets the fight to the ground, she has a huge edge but she’s never had a successful takedown in her UFC career.
If she can overpower Fiorot down to the ground though, she has a real chance to secure the upset. With that said though, Fiorot has a massive edge on the feet and has the technical ability to pick her apart with combinations at range and finish the fight with elbows and knees if she gets into clinches. PICK – Manon Fiorot via Knockout, Round 3
Jim Miller (32-16) vs Erick Gonzalez (14-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An interesting lightweight out between the grappling expert Miller as he takes on short-notice debutant Gonzalez at 155lbs. Miller has lost three of his last four, dropping decisions to Vinc Pichel at UFC 252 and Joe Solecki at UFC Vegas 23 most recently. Gonzalez is on a two-fight win streak and steps in on two-weeks notice.
Miller is a submission wizard, with 18 wins via tap-out throughout his career but he also has some decent striking to mix in with it too. Gonzalez on the other hand is a striking heavy fighter, with good technical boxing ability and some decent kicks to go with his combinations too. It’s a real clash of styles fight in this one and is also a big void in experience too.
On the ground Miller has the advantage, but Gonzalez is very good at pushing forward with blitzes and his takedown defence is decent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either guy get their hand raised at the end of this one, but the experience and grappling of Miller should see him earn a submission win. PICK – Jim Miller via Submission, Round 3
Andrei Arlovski (31-20) vs Carlos Felipe (11-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight bout between the past and potential future of the division. Arlovski is a former world champion who was submitted by Tom Aspinall at UFC Vegas 19, before bouncing back with a decision win over Chase Sherman at UFC Vegas 24. Felipe is on a three-fight win streak in the UFC, defeating all of Yorgan De Castro, Justin Tafa and Jake Collier by decision at UFC 263 most recently.
Arlovski is a well-rounded striker, with good boxing and some decent wrestling in his back pocket too to try and keep fights standing. Felipe on the other hand is a cardio heavy fighter who uses volume and low kicks to secure wins. Neither of these fighters are the most powerful of strikers, but at heavyweight everyone hits hard. This will likely be stand-up affair and Felipe is deceptively quick with his hands so could catch him with a big strike.
Despite that possibility though, this fight is almost sure to go the distance. Neither guy really goes for the finish too much and Arlovski isn’t fighting like a 42-year-old. But his level has dropped from where he once was and Felipe is always improving, so I think he claims the win. PICK – Carlos Felipe via Decision
Aspen Ladd (9-1) vs Norma Dumont (6-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very weird fight in the main event at featherweight here that was put together on short-notice. Aspen Ladd is moving up to featherweight after missing weight at bantamweight just two weeks ago to step in for the injury Holly Holm to face Dumont. Ladd hasn’t fought since 2019 after tearing her MCL and ACL. Dumont on the other hand has two wins in a row with decisions over Ashlee Evans-Smith and Felicia Spencer.
Ladd is a great wrestler with some excellent control and ground and pound in her arsenal, while Dumont is a very good striker with good speed and power. Ladd is very good at getting the fight down to the ground from the inside and then she just has this ability to hold her opponent in place to unleash some nasty ground strikes, leading to six KO career wins so far.
Dumont’s takedown defence isn’t amazing but on the feet she has the speed to keep range. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the power to put Ladd off coming forward to close the distance and get the takedowns needed. Once there, it’s just about how long Dumont can survive. Sucks to be her, but I don’t think it’ll be that long. PICK – Aspen Ladd via Knockout, Round 3
Pena is a great striker with a good submission game too, while Munhoz is a strict wrestler who if he can’t get the fight down to the ground will undoubtedly struggle. Pena has all the tools to put a good run together, but it just never seems to click for him in the cage. Munhoz suffered a first defeat last time out against one of the better boxers in the division last time out.
It’s a one-sided fight, it’s just hard to know which way it goes because of the weaknesses both men have leading in to the opposite numbers strengths. As it stands though, I think Munhoz is likely to get the takedowns needed to grind out a decision win. PICK – Alexander Munhoz via Decision
Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-3) vs Jacob Malkoun (4-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Both guys are violent strikers with power that puts people to sleep, but Alhassan is by far the more experienced man in the cage. Malkoun’s record is short and a bit stodgy and his biggest claim to fame is that he’s a training partner of Robert Whittaker’s. Both guys have the power to put the other to sleep, but I can’t see past Alhassan getting back on the winning trail with a big, violent stoppage. PICK – Abdul Razak Alhassan via Knockout, Round 1
Andrei Arlovski (30-20) vs Chase Sherman (15-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The legendary former world champion makes a quick turnaround to take on a big prospect in the heavyweight division. Andrei Arlovski had won two in a row beating Phillipe Lins and Tanner Boser at UFC Vegas 13, before being submitted by Tom Aspinall at UFC Vegas 19 earlier this year. Sherman has won four in a row including his UFC return against Isaac Villanueva back in May 2020.
Arlovski is a legendary kickboxer with tremendous punching power and great technique, while Sherman is a bit more of a traditional boxer with great power in his hands. Sherman is a specialist knockout artist, but considering he’s mainly a boxer he gets hit an awful lot.
It’s a tough fight to call, because both men have had questionable chins in the past and while Sherman has more power now Arlovski is the better all-round fighter. Despite that, Arlovski has lost a step in age at 42-years-old now and I think Sherman should be able to get enough volume going to get a win. PICK – Chase Sherman via Decision
Jeremy Stephens (28-18 1NC) vs Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An intriguing lightweight bout in the co-main event as ‘Lil Heathen’ makes a return to 155lbs for the first time in nine years to take on the highly rated Drakkar Klose. Stephens was a contender at featherweight for a while but then went 0-4 (1 NC) in his last five to send him on a spiral back up to lightweight, while Klose had won three in a row before getting knocked out in a crazy fight against Beneil Dariush just over a year ago.
Stephens is a well rounded fighter who often relies on his heavy hands and steady boxing for big wins and it’s come up trumps more often than not. While his recent record is horrendous, he’s only been beaten by the elite of the 145lbs division so it’s hard to see how far he’s fallen if at all. Klose on the other hand is fantastic wrestler who has heavy hands of his own, but usually looks to take fights to the mat and work his ground and pound.
This is a really fun fight, but I can’t see it going particularly well for Stephens. Klose is the more technical fighter of the two, and while both men are durable Stephens was getting hurt by smaller guys than Klose. I think Klose will threaten the takedown and throw his hands too to be able to secure a decision win. PICK – Drakkar Klose via Decision
Robert Whittaker (23-5) vs Kelvin Gastelum (17-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Whittaker is an elite level kickboxer who is a master of range, with heavy hands and great footwork. Gastelum on the other hand is a heavy-handed wrestler who has good submission skills too. Whittaker is one of the best middleweights of all-time but he does get hit and rocked quite often. Gastelum has the power to hurt Whittaker with his hands, but he needs to get close enough and land clean to do it and I can’t see that.
‘Bobby Knuckles’ is better in every aspect of MMA and while Gastelum has a remarkable chin that will likely hold out, I cannot look past Whittaker waltzing to a decision win once again. PICK – Robert Whittaker via Decision
*Drakkar Klose vs Luis Pena was cancelled a few hours before the event after one of Klose’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19.*
*Rafael Alves vs Pat Sabatini was cancelled after the weigh-ins, after Alves weighed in a 157.5lbs for their featherweight (146lbs limit) fight.*
Serghei Spivac def Jared Vanderra via Knockout, Round 2 (4:32)
Good start to the fight for Spivac as he responds to being back up against the cage with some nice overhand rights, before catching a leg kick and charging forward to get a takedown. Vanderra is able to get back to his feet and clinch before Spivac sweeps him and ends up on top in half guard. Spivac looks to advance into side control but Vanderra does well to get him back into half guard, while Spivac looks to touch him with ground and pound. Lots of top control from Spivac but not much damage from him as Vanderra seems content to see out the round from the bottom – and that’s what he does. 10-9 Spivac.
Another quick start for Spivacas he ducks a head kick attempt from Vanderra and gets the fight back to the ground early to dominate from the top once again. Spivac content to stay in half guard and rain down short elbows and short punches, while Vanderra isn’t active enough at all to try and get out of the position. Vanderra is busted up bad with Spivac blasting him. The referee taking a close look as Spivac moves into full mount and continues to blast him with strikes, with Vanderra barely defending himself and the referee finally calls it off. Impressive from Spivac.
Aiemann Zahabi def Drako Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1 (3:05)
Interesting start to this one as Rodriguez takes the centre of the cage but both men seem to be waiting for the other to throw. Rodriguez throws a nice uppercut down the middle and Zahabi fires back with some strikes of his own, before a short clinch. Nice calf kick from Rodriguez and he seems to be loosening up a little now. Both men go for a right hand and Zahabi starches him! Rodriguez goes down and Zahabi lands one more shot before the referee steps in and ends it. Wow what a punch!
Chas Skelly vs Jamall Emmers – CANCELLED
Unbelievable. Skelly makes the walk to the octagon and before Emmers comes out, the broadcast team tells us that he is suffering from back spasms backstage and can’t make the walk. The fight is cancelled. Crazy scenes.
Casey O’Neill def Shana Dobson via Knockout, Round 2 (3:41)
Very fast start to this fight as O’Neill comes out quickly, they both exchange strikes and O’Neill goes for the takedown with a single leg. Dobson defends it well and O’Neill lets go, before another exchange and finally getting the takedown she craved. Dobson rolls through and ends up on top but O’Neill scrambles and they get back up. Dobson throwing some powerful strikes but O’Neill isn’t fazed at all and after a clinch she dumps Dobson back to the ground and goes into side control. O’Neill landing some nice elbows from the top but Dobson defending well and forces a scramble, which O’Neill wins by coming out on top before getting another takedown. Lots of ground and pound but Dobson doing well to not take too much damage, as the round comes to an end with O’Neill trying to lock in a heel hook. 10-9 O’Neill.
Fast start to the second round again, with Dobson throwing a nice body kick but O’Neill catches it and takes the fight to the ground. She tries to take the back of Dobson but it’s defended well despite two hooks being in. O’Neill gets into full mount and starts raining down crazy levels of ground and pound and Dobson tries to escape by kicking off the cage, but O’Neill maintains the position and keeps landing damage. Dobson tries to escape by O’Neill just stays tight to her and continues to stay in dominant positions landing elbows and punches and forces the referee to step in and end it. What a performance from the debutant!
Julian Erosa def Nate Landwehr via Knockout, Round 1 (0:56)
HOLY!! What a fight!!! Both men come out all guns blazing, Erosa sends Landwehr flying backwards with a right hand, Landewehr drops Erosa with strikes in the clinch, Erosa rattles the brain of Landwehr with some uppercuts in the clinch and then knocks him out with a flying knee! Landwehr protests to the referee but I think it was the right call. What a knockout for Julian Erosa! Wow!
John Castaneda def Eddie Wineland via Knockout, Round 1 (4:44
Tactical start to the fight early on as Wineland takes the centre of the cage and looks to pressure forward, with Castaneda circling on the outside. Wineland with lots of head movement and feints, with his rapid right hand landing hard a couple of times. Leg kick from Castaneda as he continues to circle, before an exchange of strikes sees Wineland get caught with a counter left hand. Lead right hand lands from Castaneda and wobbles Wineland and Castaneda charges for the finish. He lands four or five shots clean that drop Wineland and pours on the pressure with ground and pound to force the referee to stop the fight. Huge knockout for Castaneda!
Jared Gordon def Danny Chavez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Cagey start to this bout as both men look to feel each other out with feints and movements. Gordon backs Chavez up against the cage but misses with some big strikes before they exchange calf kicks. Big one-two from Chavez backs Gordon up momentarily before he comes forward again with some leg kicks. Chavez throws a kick that hits Gordon right on the cup and there’s a brief pause in the action. Fight restarts and Gordon lands two nice leg kicks that Chavez tries to check, before he throws a beautiful spinning wheel kick that Gordon just avoids. Gordon backs Chavez up against the cage again and the two play with throwing heavy strikes but they’re both tentative about it and keep missing. Heavy leg kick from Chavez and Gordon goes for a takedown but it’s stuffed quite easily. Good round, very close. 10-9 Gordon for me but could go either way really.
Quicker start to this round from Chavez, as he comes out quickly for a takedown and gets it only for Gordon to pop back up to his feet quickly. Chavez trying to take the centre now but his leg is definitely hurting him and Gordon shoots for a takedown and gets it. He takes him against the cage and starts applying good top pressure from the guard position. Chavez tries to get back up to his feet but Gordon defends the position really well and is able to stay on top. More ground and pound as he goes body-head and Gordon is completely dominating on the ground right now. Chavez kicks Gordon away and tries to get back up but Gordon is able to recover and push him back down before he gets back up. Gordon passes guard with seconds remaining and takes the second round clearly. 20-18 Gordon.
A more tentative final round as Chavez takes the centre and starts walking Gordon down now. Some good shots from Chavez land but his leg is definitely compromised, and Gordon goes for a takedown which is denied. Chavez lands a couple more right hands and Gordon lands a few more of his own before shooting for the single leg and getting the takedown. Chavez looks exhausted on the bottom as Gordon keeps busy from top position and looks to pass guard while throwing lots of ground and pound. Chavez gets back to the feet and goes for a flying knee but once again Gordon gets hold of him and clinches to force the grappling exchange to see out the round. 30-27 Gordon.
Tom Aspinall def Andrei Arlovski via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (1:09)
Very positive start to the fight for you Brit as Aspinall takes the centre and is using excellent footwork to step in and out of range. A few leg kicks from both and some nice blitzes but Aspinall staying very calm. Aspinall slips a shot and lands a big right hand that rocks Arlovski! He throws a barrage of strikes with tremendous hand speed and Arlovski looks hurt, then he keeps going to the body to try and get Arlovski to stop covering up before the veteran clinches up with him. Arlovski slowing this fight all the way down with a clinch as we enter the final 30 seconds and the clinch is broken. Both guys connect with a big right hand simultaneously just as the round ends. 10-9 Aspinall, good round.
Arlovski opens the round with a nice leg kick before landing a beautiful right hand that pushes Aspinall back. A bit more feinting and moving from Aspinall before he shoots in for a big power double leg takedown and gets it. He immediately wraps his arm around the neck of Arlovski and sinks in a rear naked choke which Arlovski taps too! Beautifully done! We have a new contender at heavyweight!
Phil Hawes def Nassourdine Imavov via Majority Decision (28-28, 29-28 x2)
Quick start from Hawes as he comes out and lands lots of calf kicks early on to chop away at Imavov. Big combination of strikes land too but Imavov covers up well, before Hawes kicks at the leg again and drops Imavov. Hawes misses a looping right hook and Imavov clinches up with him, which allows Hawes to go for a takedown but it’s good defending from Imavov to keep it standing. Imavov throws and lands a big elbow but Hawes responds with an immediate takedown and then slams him down too to end up in side control. A couple of nice shots on the ground from Hawes land as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Hawes.
Couple of kicks each start the round before Hawes ducks a straight right from Imavov and goes for the takedown against the cage once again. The clinch battle continues before Imavov is able to separate after a few minutes against the cage. Imavov lands a straight right and then another that wobbles Hawes! He comes forward with a big right hand again but Hawes ducks it and blasts a takedown against the cage. Hawes is able to get the back and drag him down to the mat back into side control and starts throwing ground and pound strikes once again. Imavov doing a good job of defending from the bottom but Hawes ends the round on top. 20-18 but Imavov is still in this.
Imavov comes out quickly and heavy, but Hawes ducks immediately and gets a takedown once again. Imavov is able to get back to the feet but Hawes continues to hold him against the cage and throws knees before they break. Imavov tries to walk forward and throws an uppercut but Hawes avoids it and clinches up against the cage once again. Imavov frames off and lands two big elbows and then breaks away and lands some big right hooks that have Hawes wobbling! Hawes steps away and Imavov goes for a Thai clinch, which allows Hawes to clinch up against the cage again. Imavov breaks away and lands more shots but Hawes clinches up again and survives to the buzzer. 29-28 Hawes in the end for me. Great fight.
Chris Daukaus def Aleksei Oleinik via Knockout, Round 1 (1:55)
Very quick start to the fight as Daukaus comes out and throws a big right hand but Oleinik grabs hold of him and clinches up. He starts looking for a key lock but Daukaus does well and then he tries to pull guard for that famed Ezekiel choke but Daukaus stays standing. Huge shots land from Daukaus and they rock Oleinik, who comes forward again and throws a big overhand right that misses. Daukaus stays patient, fires of some big shots that are all landing flush including knees to the head and the referee steps in and waves it off! Hugely impressive win for Chris Daukaus!
Darrick Minner def Charles Rosa via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
Minner comes out with a fast pace to start the fight, closing the distance quickly and clinching up. Rosa goes for a guillotine immediately but Minner pops out and the two separate. Minner pushes forward and throws some heavy shots but only a couple land and Rosa eats them well. Minner gets the fight down to the ground with a nice takedown and then starts riding the positions. Both men transition really well throughout the round and Minner takes the top position for the most part to take the round. 10-9 Minner.
Second round and Minner lands a beautiful leg kick and follows it up with a big right hand that drops Rosa! Minner pounces for a finish and takes the back looking for a choke. Rosa defends it well and Minner continues to land some ground and pound while fishing for the submission but Rosa continues to defend it well. Minner controls the position and Rosa explodes back up to his feet, but Minner takes the back, and drags him back down and ends up in full mount. Minner threatening with a head and arm choke and it looks tight but Rosa transitions to an armbar attempt to escape! Minner lets it go and sees the round out on top. Potentially a 10-8 round. 20-17 Minner.
Minner opens the final round with a big right hook that wobbles Rosa and he ends up taking the top position once again after dragging him to the ground. Rosa threatens with a kimura but it’s perfectly defended by Minner who gets back into top position and stacks Rosa against the cage looking for ground and pound. Rosa looking to attack an armbar and transitions to an omoplata but he’s cut open bad and Minner is able to defend it very well. Minner goes into north south position and controls the neck and Rosa looks to cage walk to roll out but Minner stops him again and just takes the back. Minner stretches Rosa out as we enter the final 30 seconds. Rosa starts throwing elbows and punches from the bottom but Minner eats the shots and rides it out until the buzzer. Big win for Darrick Minner.
Yana Kunitskaya def Ketlen Vieira via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Vieira opens the fight up with a couple of right hands before going straight in for a takedown. After some battling against the cage she gets Kunitskaya down, but the Russian battles her way back up and they re-engage in the clinch. Lots of knees to the body from Kunitskaya in the clinch which Vieira is not enjoying at all. Vieira goes for a throw, Kunitskaya throws a knee which lands but Vieira follows through with a takedown and gets it. Vieira steps over into mount pretty quickly but Kunitskaya does well to get back to half guard before Vieira steps into mount again and starts looking for submissions. Kunitskaya battles for half guard again and Vieira spends the last 90 seconds trying to get back into mount while they exchange ground and pound strikes. 10-9 Vieira.
Kunitskaya comes out fast in the second round and applies pressure from the off with strikes before clinching up against the cage. More of those uncomfortable knees to the body and as Vieira tries to get a takedown, Kunitskaya reverses it and gets herself on top as they fall to the ground. Vieira looking for submissions from the bottom while Kunitskaya defends well and throws lots of good ground and pound. Vieira transitions for an armbar but loses it and then goes for a knee bar which is close, but Kunitskaya kicks off and gets back to her feet. Vieira tries to drag the fight to the ground again but Kunitskaya defends it well and starts throwing those knees again. Vieira goes for a kimura but Kunitskaya defends it well and starts throwing big knees to the body on the ground followed by solid elbows too to end the round. 19-19.
Calf kicks for Kunitskaya to start the third round before Vieira changes levels and gets the takedown within the first minute. Vieira ends up in half guard on top and throws some nice ground and pound and is trying to pass into guard but Kunitskaya is defending well and the cage isn’t helping her either. She goes chest to chest and finally passes into mount and starts looking for a head and arm choke. Kunitskaya trying to escape but Vieira’s level is so high and she takes the back now. Kunitskaya starts fighting the hands and legs to break the locks but Vieira is still controlling the position well as she searches for an opening for a rear-naked choke. Kunitskaya throwing punches from the top with Vieira on her back and she reverses the position with 10 seconds and starts raining down huge ground and pound to end the round. Should be a Vieira round though which would give her the fight. 29-28 Vieira.
Derrick Lewis def Curtis Blaydes via Knockout, Round 2 (1:26)
A very static start to this fight as Lewis stands pretty much still in the centre and invites Blaydes to come towards him. Blaydes moves in to close the distance and Lewis cracks him with a big right hand that sends Blaydes retreating. He comes back in and lands a nice jab, but Lewis loops a big right hand again and misses. High kick attempt from Lewis misses and Blaydes is staying very patient, and then lands a big right hand. He slips Lewis’ counter and lands two more right hands that rock Lewis a little, then follows that up with some leg kicks. Blaydes is controlling the striking with his speed and movement and is throwing lots of leg kicks to destabilise Lewis. Lovely jab from Blaydes followed by another leg kick and Lewis is hurting on that leg. 10-9 Blaydes.
Second round and Blaydes comes out quickly with some nice right hands once again. He shoots for the takedown and Lewis denies it brilliantly. They meet in the middle again and Blaydes shoots for another takedown and Lewis throws an uppercut and Blaydes is out cold!! Lewis lands two more huge shots while Blaydes is unconscious and the referee ends it! Holy wow! What a knockout!
Arlovski is the epitome of a mixed martial artist, with fantastic striking and a solid ground game to his name too. Aspinall is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who took time away from the cage to become a professional boxer, training with world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. He has tremendous one-punch power, great hand speed and technique and is so confident in his ground game that he isn’t hesitant to throw hands.
Arlovski is a veteran and knows how to stuff momentum, but with where they both are in their careers right now this could be the statement win Aspinall’s career needs to really take off. PICK – Tom Aspinall via Knockout, Round 1
Phillip Hawes (9-2) vs Nassourdine Imavov (9-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
After getting a random, undisclosed injury during fight week of UFC Fight Island 7 this fight was rescheduled for this card. Someone’s winning streak end as Hawes and Imavov go to war at 185lbs. Hawes has won each of his last five fights, including an 18 second knockout on his UFC debut at UFC 254, while Imavov has won each of his last six including his UFC debut against Jordan Williams in October.
Hawes is a violent counter striker who is very physical in his approach, while Imavov is a bit more of a rounded fighter. His issue is that when he’s out-gunned on the feet he tends to use his wrestling, but Hawes is the better wrestler here. Imavov has good footwork but with a range and power deficit, but Hawes should be able to get the victory here. PICK – Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 2
Aleksei Oleinik (59-14-1) vs Chris Daukaus (10-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A very, very interesting fight at heavyweight between a true veteran of the sport against an up and coming prospect. Aleksei Oleinik will be competing in his 75th professional fight here against Daukaus, who has was his last three in a row including both of his UFC fights.
If you have knockout power, which Daukaus has with nine knockout wins in ten victories, you can beat Oleinik. But you have to do it before he gets his hands on you and puts you on the ground. He can submit you from the top or the bottom but Daukaus’ striking is so powerful and heavy hands have beaten Oleinik in three of his last five fights. I’ll either get this spot on or horribly wrong, but I think Daukaus pulls out the big knockout win. PICK – Chris Daukaus via Knockout, Round 1
Charles Rosa (13-4) vs Darrick Minner (25-11) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A fight that will take place between two unranked fighters with two of the best submission artists in the featherweight division. Rosa has won eight of 13 via submission, but his most recent fight was a split decision win over Kevin Aguilar. Minner on the other hand has won 22 of 25 wins by submission and in each of his last 13 wins, including his most recent fight against TJ Laramie back in September.
Rosa has a great karate style on the feet and he fights in a similar way to Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, but Minner will pressure him well with boxing and attack the legs with solid calf kicks. Rosa has the advantage on the feet and his movement could see him look to keep it there, but Minner has a great wrestling background and looks to land a big shot then take the fight down to the ground.
It’s a very close fight between the two but I think with Minner more likely to get Rosa to the ground than Rosa is to keep the fight standing, I’ll go with Minner to get the win. PICK – Darrick Minner via Submission, Round 2
Ketlen Vieira (11-1) vs Yana Kunitskaya (13-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Both women are grapplers by trade, by Vieira is a legit Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and is comfortable off her back and on top, while Kunitskaya prefers to lay and prey from the top and uses her kicking game when on the feet. It seems like a recipe for disaster against Vieira, who is among the elite grapplers in the women’s MMA world.
It’s close, but stylistically Vieira seems to have a path to victory wherever the fight ends up while Kunitskaya will need to win in a realm where her opponent is at her best or where she isn’t at her best also. PICK – Ketlen Vieira via Decision
Curtis Blaydes (14-2) vs Derrick Lewis (24-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
That Oleinik fight doesn’t bode well for Lewis though. He was taken down and dominated on the ground by the much smaller man and only got back to his feet when the bell went to end the first round. Blaydes will take this to the ground and look to blast him out of there from top position. If Lewis somehow survives the first round, he will need a knockout just like against Oleinik but Blaydes is elite and will take it back to the ground for a dominant win. PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Knockout, Round 2
Note – Ian Heinisch vs Brendan Allen was cancelled a few hours prior to the card starting due to a positive COVID-19 test. The card will proceed with 10 fights, with Giga Chikadze vs Jamey Simmons moving to the main card.
Gustavo Lopez def Anthony Birchak via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (2:43)
Quick start to the round by Lopez, who comes out and lands two big left hooks and drops Birchak! He has Birchak wobbled against the cage and changes levels quickly to take the fight to the ground. He swarms Birchak, who is defending but can’t quite do anything to keep Lopez off him. Lopez gets his back and starts landing ground and pound, which opens up a rear naked choke opportunity which he sinks in and gets the tap. Very impressive performance.
Max Griffin def Ramiz Brahimaj via Knockout (Injury), Round 3 (2:03)
Slow start to this fight as both men circle each other and throw pot shots as they try to figure each other out. Both fighters landing the odd jab but nothing significant as we enter the final 90 seconds of the round. Brahimaj lands a right hook and then Griffin throws a nice left hand as the two engage in a clinch to end the round. Could be scored either way in honesty. 10-9 Griffin.
Second round begins with Brahimaj coming out with a nice one two before Griffin goes for a body kick but lands flush on the cup so there’s a pause in the action. Griffin starting to throw body shots and combos to open up the guard of Brahimaj. Nice one-two by Brahimaj lands clean but Griffin returns with a straight right through the guard. Griffin is piecing Brahimaj up on the feet and has opened up a cut in this round. Once again the round ends with a clinch between the two but that was much more of a Griffin round. 20-18 for me, could be 19-19.
Faster start to the round for Brahimaj as he looks to press forward but another accidental groin strike pauses his momentum. Griffin has been cut over his right eye now, but he lands a nice combo which wobbles Brahimaj. The two clinch up against the cage as Griffin tries to go for a finish and he lands a huge elbow that essentially rips the ear off Brahimaj’s head. The two continue fighting for a few seconds before the referee spots the injury and stops the fight! TKO win for Griffin but that is nasty!
Darren Elkins def Eduardo Garagorri via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (2:22)
Immediate takedown from Darren Elkins opens the fight up as he looks to take it to the ground immediately. A bit of ground and pound before Garagorri gets up before being put straight back down several times over. Elkins really wearing Garagorri out with these constant takedown attempts, not allowing him any space to breathe. They finally break with a minute to go and Garagorri lands a head kick but Elkins eats it, then catches a second attempt and ends up in full guard to end the round. 10-9 Elkins.
Elkins comes out and the two look to exchange strikes this time and Garagorri gets the better of it with some nice left hands. At that point Elkins decides enough is enough and puts him on the mat with another takedown, this time holding him down and landing some ground and pound. Garagorri gets back to his feet and breaks away this time, landing a nice spin kick to the body before missing with a big uppercut and allowing Elkins to hold onto him again. Garagorri landing with the left hand a lot more in this round and he’s hurting Elkins, so Elkins goes straight back to the takedown and slams him down onto the mat. The round ends with both guys exchanging strikes on the ground but should be another Elkins round. 20-18.
Both guys showing they’re tired in this round, with Garagorri landing some nice shots once again. A big left hand snaps Elkins’ head back and hurts him but he goes for a flying knee and ends up getting his back taken instead. Elkins locks in a body triangle and makes Garagorri carry all of his weight, while landing big shots and then sinking in a rear naked choke for the tap. Great performance.
Alexander Romanov def Marcos R. de Lima via Submission (Arm Choke), Round 1 (4:48)
Very interesting start to the fight as de Lima throws two big leg kicks to open before a power double leg from Romanov puts him on his back. Romanov looks to pass to a head and arm choke but de Lima explodes back to his feet and lands some heavy punches. More leg kicks from de Lima causing Romanov problems and then he lands some big combos that look to hurt Romanov! Another two takedown attempts against the cage but de Lima defends really well until Romanov explodes and trips him to end up on top. Big ground and pound strikes and then Romanov thrusts his forearm into the throat of de Lima and chokes him out! First forearm choke in UFC history! de Lima is OUT! Hugely impressive win.
Trevin Giles def Bevon Lewis via Knockout, Round 3 (1:26)
Fun start to the round as Giles comes straight out for a takedown and the two clinch against the cage, testing each other’s physical strength early. Giles gets the better of the exchange mostly before they separate and he connects with a couple of nice shots. Another clinch and once again they break, with both guys firing in big shots and Giles landing harder. Big elbow attempt by Lewis against the cage but he doesn’t land and the clinch continues into the final minute. The fighters break and Giles lands a beautiful jab that drops Lewis! Giles gets on top and controls position for the final 30 seconds. 10-9 Giles.
Slower second round as both guys try to feel each other out a bit more on the feet here. Giles trying to work his way into boxing range to use his jab more, but Lewis using his size to stay out of range mostly. Giles’ speed advantage is the difference at the moment as he’s landing first and able to slip out of the way too. Giles lands a big right hand against the cage and Lewis is struggling to find an answer or throw any real volume to trouble him. 20-18 Giles.
Lewis comes out looking for the knockout with heavy strikes being thrown. Giles avoiding them all though and forces Lewis to shoot for a takedown, which he stuffs with a perfect sprawl. A scramble ensues and they get back to the feet. Giles throws a huge one two which rattles Lewis’ brain, then he follows it up with two more strikes that knock Lewis down and the referee steps in to end the fight. Big win and very impressive from Giles.
Yan Xiaonan def Claudia Gadelha via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Good opening to the round for both women, as Gadelha comes out and exchanges in the pocket with Yan before securing a clinch and a takedown. Yan gets back to the feet as Gadelha clinches against the cage once again looking for another takedown, but Yan defends really well until the referee breaks them up. Yan throws a low kick that Gadelha catches and she does get the fight down to the ground again and starts landing some big ground and pound. Big elbow lands and lots of body shots as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Gadelha.
Yan keeping her hopes alive in this round, landing lots of stiff shots and staying out of the range for Gadelha’s takedown hopes. Lots of quick jabs that are being followed with a right cross and she’s marking up the face of Gadelha. Gadelha looks very slow and laboured in this round and Yan continues to press forward with pressure but Gadelha ends an exchange with a nice hook. Yan throws a beautiful right hand straight down the middle that lands flush and she’ll take this round. 19-19.
Yan comes out popping that jab once again but this time Gadelha closes the distance with a clinch against the cage. Yan defends it really well and lands some nice strikes of her own before breaking away. Another laboured attempt from Gadelha but Yan defends again and continues to land strikes from distance. Gadelha is exhausted but goes in for another clinch against the cage but Yan is fresh and strong enough to defend while also attacking from the cage. Big flurry of punches ends the round and should be a win for Yan Xiaonan. 29-28.
Giga Chikadze def Jamey Simmons via Knockout, Round 1 (3:51)
Interesting start to the round as Chikadze shows patience to try and feel out Simmons early on. A few jabs and body kicks but nothing too significant, as Simmons looks for a takedown but is stuffed twice by the Georgian. Big body kick from Chikadze hurts Simmons and then he follows it up with a big head kick that drops Simmons! He jumps on him with ground and pound and the referee calls it off! Comfortable win for Chikadze.
Raoni Barcelos def Khalid Taha via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Fun start to the fight as both men come out swinging hell for leather early on. Barcelos chops at the leg of Taha and drops him with it before landing a nice jab. Taha fires back but another leg kick drops him again. Barcelos keeping a relentless pace and lands some huge punches, then throws some big Muay-Thai knees to the head. Taha fires back with some big punches of his own and Barcelos goes in for a takedown. Dominant on the floor, he’s transitioning from position to position and tries to sink in a rear naked choke but Taha is able to defend it and eventually reverses the position. Barcelos throws up an armbar but again Taha is able to defend before they get back to the feet and the round ends. 10-9 Barcelos, great round.
A blistering pace to this fight so far as both men look to push the other to their limit. Barcelos firing in low kicks but Taha reading well and returning with hooks. Both men exchange in the pocket and Barcelos fires in a beautiful flying knee that lands clean but Taha just eats it. Accidental groin strike from Barcelos causes a pause in the action halfway through the round. Barcelos countering Taha’s strikes beautifully but he’s sticking around and proving why he’s in there to begin with. Head kick attempt from Barcelos followed up by hooks, and straights from Barcelos. Final 10 seconds and Barcelos lands a big left hand that hurts him! He’s looking for the finish and lands a big combo but Taha is saved by the buzzer! 20-18 Barcelos.
Final round and Barcelos is looking to start where he left off with big shots. Leg kicks are really hurting Taha and he’s following it up with huge combinations that are rocking Taha. Barcelos picks the leg and takes the fight to the ground as he takes his back and looks for a rear naked choke. Taha defends it well but Barcelos goes into half guard and starts rattling off ground and pound. The fight gets back to the feet and Taha lands two big hooks as Barcelos starts showing some signs of slowing down. Stiff right hand from Barcelos rocks Taha again but he refuses to go down. Leg kick again as Taha walks forward in the final minute before another leg kick drops Taha again! Taha shoots for a takedown with 20 seconds left but Barcelos stuffs it and then they start swinging wild hooks at each other as the round comes to an end. What a fight. 30-27 Barcelos.
Andrei Arlovski def Tanner Boser via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Standard slow start for the big boys as both guys look to feel each other out early on. Boser throws a couple of leg kicks that Arlovski tries to check, before fainting with the jab. More leg kicks before Arlovski throws a jab and leg kick of his own. Arlovski flies in with a head kick attempt but Boser steps out of the way unfazed. Big overhand right lands from Arlovski right at the end of the round but still a Boser round for me. 10-9.
Another slow start to this round as Boser once again comes out with leg kicks, while Arlovski seems to be hanging back looking for counter striking opportunities. Arlovski lands a big overhand right that Boser eats, before landing another straight right moments later. Boser continuing to try and throw leg kicks and then lands with a nice left hand. Neither fighter really committing to offence but Boser is throwing leg kicks a lot. Pretty dull round overall. 19-19.
Final round and both guys come out a little quicker this time around but Boser is continuing with the attack on the legs. Nice jab from Boser is followed by a big right cross by Arlovski but once again he just eats it. Boser still doing lots of fainting but Arlovski isn’t biting. Nice right hand lands again from Arlovski as we enter the final minute of the fight. Fight ends with nothing significant happening. Scorecard could be anything.
Quick start to the round as Santos comes out early and establishes himself with some body kicks. Suddenly he explodes with a huge right hook and lands a big combination that drops Teixeira! He goes for the kill but Glover looks for a takedown, Santos continues striking hard but Glover eats them and eventually stalls the attack. Glover moves to the back and slams Santos down to the mat and moves straight into mount. Glover spends the rest of the round dominating position from the top and landing some nice ground and pound. Somehow, its a Glover round. 10-9.
Strong start to the second round from Glover as he gets an early takedown and moves straight back into top control again. Big elbows from the half guard by Glover and hammer fists land hard as he looks to progress into full mount. Santos doing next to nothing to get back to his feet and Glover is having his way with him on the mat. Glover moves into side control and lands big elbows again in the final minute of the round but that’s a dominant round from the 41 year old. 20-17 for me.
Third round starts with a bang! Santos stuffs the immediate takedown attempt from Glover and lands a massive left hand that drops him! He jumps on him for the finish again but Glover defends well from the bottom but Santos unloading with ground and pound. Glover eats the shots and somehow reverses the position, ends up on Santos’ back, sinks in a rear naked choke and gets the tap. What a fight! Unbelievable performance from Glover Teixeira.
There are currently scheduled to be 11 fights on this card, with six prelim bouts followed up by a five-fight main card. I have already predicted the prelims here and will now try to predict the main card.
Last time out I secured a great round of predictions with 10/11 correct picks, including four perfect picks. Lets see if I can’t improve that this time around.
Claudia Gadelha (18-4) vs Yan Xiaonan (12-1 1NC) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A classic striker vs grappler bout in this one, as Gadelha looks to make it three wins in a row against Xiaonan in the most exciting women’s division. Xiaonan is undefeated in the UFC, winning all five of her fights so far and currently 10-0 with one no contest in her last 11 fights. Gadelha is a tremendous grappler who has a few issues with cardio, often fading away in the latter parts of fights. Xiaonan is a very active kickboxer, who has been working on her takedown defence even more so in recent weeks. Her excellent ability to keep a fast pace throughout the entire fight will also play a big part and while it’s possible Gadelha gets her down and controls her on the ground, I think this is Xiaonan’s fight to lose. PICK – Yan Xiaonan via Decision
Ian Heinisch (14-3) vs Brendan Allen (15-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The fight of the night as far as my picks go for that, two very good middleweights go head to head. Heinisch got back into the win column at UFC 250 against Gerald Meerschaert following two back-to-back defeats prior to that. Allen is on a seven fight win streak, including a stoppage win over Kevin Holland and a decision over Kyle Daukaus last time out. Allen is a phenom on the ground, with 8 submission wins on his record while also capable on his feet. Heinisch is also a tremendous wrestler but has struggled in the past against the pure strikers he’s faced. It’s really a battle of who turns up on the night because it really is a 50/50 fight. Heinisch has good leg kicks and body work, so if he can prevent Allen’s takedowns he should win. Something tells me though that Allen will be able to get top position and grind out a win. PICK – Brendan Allen via Decision
Raoni Barcelos (15-1) vs Khalid Taha (13-2 1NC) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A short notice fight as Barcelos steps in on short notice to take on Taha in place of Jack Shore. Barcelos is currently on an eight fight win streak, including a win over Said Nurmagomedov last time out at the back end of 2019. He has a fantastic skillset, where he has proven he has knockout power to go with his counter-striking as well as a great base for his ground game. Taha is a powerhouse on the feet with serious knockout power though so Barcelos will have to be careful for the most part. Barcelos should prove himself to be too well rounded during this fight though and I expect him to get the fight to the ground and secure a submission win. PICK – Raoni Barcelos via Submission, Round 2
Andrei Arlovski (29-19 2NC) vs Tanner Boser (19-6-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The legendary Arlovski is back in the octagon and he’ll take on a man who is looking for his third win of 2020. Boser knocked out Phillipe Lins in June before then knocking out Raphael Pessoa a month later. Arlovski’s last fight was also against Phillipe Lins but he got the win via a decision. Arlovski has great output for a 41 year old and he obviously has knockout power but Boser is the guy with the advantages right now. He has a wicked leg kick and has shown in the past that he can go the distance quite comfortably. In recent fights though he has shown a willingness to go for the kill and that is something Arlovski won’t be looking forward to. A string of combinations lands in the second and gets the legendary Russian out of there. PICK – Tanner Boser via Knockout, Round 2
Thiago Santos (21-7) vs Glover Teixeira (31-7) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A fight to determine who’s at the top of the light heavyweight division, Thiago Santos makes his return to the octagon for the first time since July 2019 when he lost a title fight to Jon Jones, while Teixeira is coming off a thumping win over Anthony Smith. Santos has terrifying knockout power and a fantastic kicking game, while Glover is a boxer first and foremost but his ground game is fantastic too. If Glover gets the fight down to the ground, he’s almost always able to keep it there and dominate whoever is under him. Santos is incredibly explosive though and isn’t a novice on the ground either but his wrestling is poor. Santos is so powerful on the feet though, I think he’ll be able to land flush on Glover relatively early on and end the fight before his ground game gets tested too much. PICK – Thiago Santos via Knockout, Round 2